John had a moment to decide how he was going to respond, he decided that since his death was close at hand, that he was going to see just how much cheek he could get away with before the fatal blow.
"It's about damned time," he complained, "if I had to put up with more of the Bobbsey Twins I think I was going to go mad, I mean what is it with all of the M names in your organization anyway?
Matthews, Moran, Moriarty, do you have a Montrose or a Masterson somewhere?
And can I get a last meal, any bloody thing but jelly please!"
Moriarty laughed, it was a pleasant sound but it still made John's hackles rise.
"You really are quite amusing," Moriarty said remarked with a chuckle, "I'm still going to make your death spectacularly gruesome."
"Can we just go with gruesome?" John replied with his most charming smile.
Moriarty sighed and rolled his eyes. "I suppose, then again, I do so like to savour the moment."
"So record it, that way you have it for posterity," John responded in his most helpful tone.
Moriarty shrugged. "I do that regardless, as a matter of fact I intend on sending the CCTV footage to 221b Baker Street, so your friend can enjoy the moment.
John sat up and threw his legs over the side; he was tensing to cross the distance when Moriarty cheerfully pointed out the red dot on his chest, the source was what looked like a ventilation shaft, revealing that he probably had guns on him all along.
"Tut, tut, John, and we were having such a pleasant conversation," he chided.
"I think wrapping my fingers around your scrawny neck and squeezing would be more productive," John responded.
Moriarty seemed to give it some consideration. "I'm sorry, I fail to see how that would be conducive to the proceedings, I'll have to veto that thought, strangulation is on the table, but not for me I'm afraid."
John snapped his fingers as if he was gravely disappointed.
"You know, John, this does not have to be cause for hostility," Moriarty complained.
"That might have been more convincing before you forced me to wear a jacket with four bricks of Syntex attached," John pointed out.
Moriarty shrugged with a half smile and he remarked, "Perhaps, if you want to hold a grudge, what can I do?"
"Oh, drop dead of some dastardly painful illness, I have several suggestions, a hydrochloric acid enema comes to mind..."
"Hydrochloric Acid enema," Moriarty mused.
"Forget I mentioned that," John said with a wince.
Moriarty shifted in his seat, with a small pained sound, he had a cane with him.
"Looks like you didn't get out entirely unscathed," John remarked with a pleasant smile.
Moriarty gave him a cold eye stare. "I've suffered far worse; I'll be completely healed by the end of the month."
"Pity," John remarked.
"I was under the impression that as a doctor you're not supposed to glory in someone else's misfortune?" Moriarty stated as he settled in the new position.
John showed he was unrepentant. "When someone has been the cause of so much pain for others, I'm allowed to feel some glee without my conscious bothering me overmuch."
"That's understandable," Moriarty replied.
John stared at the smaller man with distaste. "Wait, if you 're agreeing with me then there has to be a flaw in my logic somewhere."
Moriarty responded with an insouciant shoulder shrug.
"I take it even your paltry intellect can guess what happens next?"
John smirked. "Oh let me see... I'm to be subjected to more narcissistic rants about your superiority to my flatmate, and then you're going to make me an offer I can't refuse, can we forgo all the whiny little insinuations and go straight to the offer...so I can tell you to sod off?"
Moriarty actually chuckled. "I have often wondered why he keeps company with someone as jejune as you, but I am starting to see that you have a certain imbecilic charm."
"Give me some shallots a good grade of cheddar and I can also make you an egg white omelette to die for," John remarked with a grin.
"Maybe later, before you die horribly," Moriarty reminded him.
John watched the self-possessed younger man with a wry expression. "You know I had a decent therapist when I was discharged, she would probably have you put down as rabid, but if you'd like a chat with someone who is a real psychologist and not a fake, I think I still have a card..."
Moriarty was watching John with clinical detachment. "You have absolutely no fear response do you? That is what tipped me off that the ruse was up."
John suddenly felt curious despite himself. "Oh?"
Moriarty nodded. "Yes...when you first awoke and was disoriented you had a tremor in your extremities, but I can pinpoint the moment that you realized this was a mouse trap and you were the rodent by how steady your nerves became."
John shrugged as if that was old news.
"Now see, your fate is not entirely sealed, Doctor Watson, like I said before I am changeable, why would I bother with this chat otherwise if I was just going to merely put you into the ground?"
"The mental processes of the psychopathic are lost on me, I'm afraid," John lamented with a shrug.
Moriarty's expressive face made a strangely compelling contortion even though the cold eyes never warmed.
"Awww, John, you keep saying such things and I'll think we're not friends."
"I'd rather make friends with a school of Piranha while swimming in the Amazon with a punctured Femoral Artery, now what is it you really want?"
Moriarty actually grinned, such an alien expression that John was taken aback, the man really was not very stable, undeniably brilliant, and subtle but sanity had left the building long ago, if indeed it had ever been in residence, John was beginning to doubt.
"I have to say you are endlessly amusing, Doctor Watson, I'm sorry we never chatted before..."
"Well if you would stop trying to kill me, I might be less opposed," John remarked with a smile.
"I hoped that we could move past that, open up a dialogue," Moriarty replied, "I'm really not a bad guy once you get to know me."
John sighed. "You are the most unrepentantly evil person I have ever met, and I was in Afghanistan with the UN peace keeping forces..."
Moriarty mocked being wounded. "Ouch."
"Once again, just tell me what you want so I can tell you which orifice to stick it in, and we can get on with the bleeding and screaming... " John said with a yawn.
"You really have no fear of what I will do to you?" Moriarty inquired, those alien eyes showing interest.
John sighed and rolled his eyes at the man's density. "Do I look concerned?"
"You know, if you die because your partner would not back down, he will indeed be a broken man, I will have made good on my promise," Moriarty stated studying John's face.
"I doubt my death will "burn the heart right out of him," John responded with as much derision as he could pack into his tone.
Moriarty laughed. "Now whose being naive," his face shut down as he continued, "you are his heart."
Those words chilled John to his core, but he did his best not to show how it had affected him.
"Ah, the man finally gets it," Moriarty remarked.
He stood and straightened out the suit, leaning heavily on the cane. "You are most fortunate, Doctor, someone has intervened on your behalf that even I dare not cross, I must say that this chat has been most enlightening, however our next meeting will not be as pleasant."
John shot him an incredulous look. "Who said that this was pleasant?"
Moriarty leaned on the cane like some urban vulture. "All that is left is to decide whether or not you would rather be knocked unconscious by chemical means or by a blow to the head."
"I've always been partial to anaesthetic," John responded.
"Blow to the head it is," Moriarty replied with an evil smile and a motion to the door.
"Damn...I hate that guy!" John murmured just before the fist collided with his temple.
John opened his eyes and stared blearily at the ceiling.
White, boring, institutional.
"Ah I see you are awake..."
The voice was dripping with arrogance and sophistication, and bother...
"Hello, Mycroft," John stated as he raised the bed to an upright position to stare at the bureaucrat.
Mycroft Holmes sat there with his trademark bumbershoot across his legs.
"We brought you here to have you checked out, but I thought we should have a bit of a...chat before you leave for...home," Mycroft responded after a quick check of his mobile and a rolled eye.
"Sherlock has been texting?" John inquired with a grin.
"Incessantly," Mycroft replied with a text book Holmes eye roll.
"So this is the part where you tell me that I am not to say anything about your connection with Moriarty?" John inquired after a moment passed unremarked.
Mycroft held up a finger. "What connection with Moriarty?"
John had to chuckle wearily; he had seen it all before. "So that is how we are playing this game?"
To his surprise the elder Holmes sighed. "Moriarty is an asset we have used from time to time, nothing happens in the London Underworld that he is not aware, or involved. He has helped us prevent more than one catastrophe in the course of our limited association..."
"And in the return you turn a blind eye to his activities while he wreaks havoc on the innocent?" John finished.
Mycroft had the decency to look guilty. "This is a new world, Watson, the Twin Towers no longer stand, the Underground has already been bombed, we have no eyes where these terrorist move when they infiltrate our city, it is a necessary evil, you have my word that I never meant to involve Sherlock in any of this."
John felt no sympathy for the man. "You knew that Moriarty and Sherlock were going to collide eventually, you saw how similar they are, different poles of a magnet are going to attract. It was always inevitable..."
"Of course I knew," Mycroft bellowed, "why do you think I wanted eyes on Sherlock? Why do you think I intervened on your behalf?"
"They are going to try to kill each other, Mycroft, and from what I've just seen they are evenly matched, if anything Moriarty has the higher ground at the moment," John said in a softer tone to calm the man down.
Mycroft ran a hand down his face, he looked weary. "I have always looked after Sherlock. I've always made the hard decisions, some of which have estranged me from him, when the irony is that I made those choices for his sake...Moriarty exists on my obeisance, but if I were to take him away from this city, just to protect Sherlock, he would self-destruct from boredom. Please tell me that I am mistaken."
It was John's turn to sigh. "You're not wrong. God, how I wish you were."
Mycroft and John's eyes met.
John held out a hand, it was shaken with no further preamble.
"There will be a car ready to take you home, you've got a nasty concussion, but they took good care of your body, and your injuries are well on their way to recovery." Mycroft said as he planted his bumbershoot on his way to the door.
"Sherlock was right," John said quietly.
Mycroft paused. "He often is, pray tell what about?"
"You are the most dangerous man I have ever met, Moriarty included," John responded.
Mycroft accepted those words with a tilt of his head. "For the sake of Queen and Country, you can believe it."
In the wake of his leaving, John sighed, feeling the lump on his temple, covered with a bandage. It was not as bad as it could have been.
A nurse came in and set out him some clothing, with a wry smile he recognized it as his own.
"Damn it Mycroft," Sherlock grumbled as yet another text was ignored.
He had been making laps around the flat, Mrs. Hudson had checked on him more than once, seeing his agitation chiding him, "Don't wear out my carpet dear, I'll have to add that to the rent."
Her voice broke and she had to cover her eyes for a moment. "I miss Doctor Watson, he was such a sweet man," she managed to say with a sniff.
"Is, Mrs Hudson, the operative word...Is."
She gave him the same pitying look that he had received from Scotland Yarders and anyone they had associated with. If Molly consoled him one more time he was going to use the riding crop on her.
"You keep on believing that, Sherlock, but when he gets back he's going to have your head anyway when he sees what you've done with the place," she said with a dismissive wave.
In her wake he glanced around, with a casual flick of a cut up paper into the overflowing rubbish bin he declared, "Sorted."
His tense conversation with Mycroft played in his mind.
He had showed the elder Holmes those clips he had been receiving on the new phone that he badgered Mycroft himself into buying on his behalf.
"Those interrogators are using SAS training, John tipped me to them; tell me, how did Moriarty come to employ agents from British Secret Service, Mycroft?"
Mycroft had scoffed. "You trust his word? They've been plying him with enough Sodium Pentothal to turn an elephant, and he is not qualified to make such an assessment!"
Sherlock had stepped into his brother, making sure their noses were millimetres apart so he would know how serious his little brother was being at the moment. "If you do not use your influence to intervene, and John dies, I will never give you another moment of my time, which includes taking a look at the intelligence intake even when you think an attack is imminent, or any other task for you or your office."
"You would turn your back on your country, on me?" Mycroft sputtered.
"England can burn to rubbish for all I care!" Sherlock had declared.
He grew quiet, which he could see drove his point home to a greater extent. "I know you have connections in the underworld, Mycroft, I know they fear you, I was not sure about Moriarty, I hoped I was wrong, but nothing happens in this city without your knowledge, and if Moriarty managed to steal secret service agents away, then that means he would have had to have contact or have been a participate himself to know their capability...the simplest explanation is best..."
"I need some concessions from you, that's the only way I can justify this action," Mycroft responded.
"Done," Sherlock agreed.
"Don't you want to know what those concessions are?" Mycroft inquired with a confused look in his eyes.
"If John comes home, I really don't care," Sherlock had responded as he turned and walked away.
If John was right, and Sherlock believed that he was, then John would be walking through that door shortly.
The door opened and he shot up from where he had been lounging on the sofa.
To his disappointment it was Mrs. Hudson looking apologetic.
"What is it, Mrs. Hudson?" he called in a long suffering tone.
"You have a visitor, Sherlock, I told him you were busy, but he won't go away until he's seen you."
He waved his arm. "Send him in."
He heard the click of a cane on the timbers before he turned.
Standing there sheepishly, looking worse for wear was John Watson.
"So that's how you receive guests, no wonder we don't get more visitors!" he remarked with that old wry smile and a cocked eyebrow.
Sherlock leapt the high side of the sofa and was across before John could get his feet settled.
The hug was awkward but enthusiastic, a little too much so.
Sherlock backed away. "Did I do it wrong?"
John shrugged. "It was a little rough."
Holmes frowned. "Was the distance too far? Improper pressure applied? Details, John, I can't improve without pertinent data."
John limped over to his favourite chair and settled in closing his eyes a moment at the sensation then he remarked, "You need to move in closer, you might have arms that reach across the Channel but most of us poor blokes don't, and the pressure needs to be about five pounds per square inch less, what you 're doing now is more akin to a martial arts attack than affection."
Sherlock nodded gravely. "Duly noted."
"Ohhhhhh, look at the two of yooooouu," Mrs. Hudson cooed, "I'll let you two get reacquainted, just don't disturb the neighbours now, a little hanky-panky is a good thing, but remember, I've got renters."
John let out a longsuffering sigh as she left.
"So..." Sherlock remarked perched in the chair across precariously.
"Starved," John admitted.
"There might be a snack in the fridge to hold you for a bit," Sherlock remarked, "I need to change."
With a rush and swirl of loose paper he was gone.
John look around at the state of their lodgings with a weary sigh, it was going to take weeks to get some semblance of order back.
He glowered at the skull on the mantel. "You were supposed to be watching him, Yorick!"
He placed the cane down and painfully got to his feet. With the still tender ribs and damage to his hip, that limp was not going to be psychosomatic for a while!
He made his way to the fridge fearing the contents. He opened it and immediately had to laugh.
Shelf after shelf was stacked with jelly cups.
End Notes: Thanks for reading!
Thanks to vomit_bunny for sharing this amazing idea!
Thanks to Moffat/Gatiss for breathing new life into the Sherlockverse.
Thanks to Martin Freeman, Cummerbatch, Andrew Scott and Gatiss himself for the amazing acting work!
ACD for inventing the two guys at the first!